Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Blu-ray Review: BLUE RUIN (2013) [Anchor Bay]

Blue Ruin (2013)

Buy the Blu-ray or DVD

The Movie

Holy hell, BLUE RUIN is so good... I hate prefacing a review with grand statements like that, but occasionally, a movie comes along that just blows my mind and exceeds any and all expectations that I had for it. BLUE RUIN is definitely one of those movies. It's also one of my favorite films of the year.

The plot of the film is very simple on the surface:
BLUE RUIN is a classic American revenge story, following a mysterious outsider whose quiet life is turned upside down when he returns to his childhood home, determined to carry out an act of vengeance. His inexperience as an assassin lands him in a brutal fight to protect his estranged family.
While it may sound like your standard revenge-drama, BLUE RUIN is anything but normal. For starters, the "revenge" aspect of the film takes place very early on, so instead of focusing on the events leading up to the act, BLUE RUIN explores the terrible aftermath. The violence is ugly and raw, and though it is not overly graphic, it still left me reeling like a punch to the gut because it just felt so damn real.

Director Jeremy Saulnier's first film, MURDER PARTY, is a great Horror-Comedy that is exceptionally funny, but BLUE RUIN proves that he can also do serious drama. His script for the film is unique and exceptionally well-written. The characters are believable, and their dialog feels entirely genuine. 

It also really helps that the film has great actors delivering the lines. Macon Blair is phenomenal in the film as the everyday man who bumbles his way into a downward spiral of violence and vengeance. You can't help but love him and identify him, and that makes his situation all the more dramatic. For my money, Blair gives one of the best performances that I've seen on screen all year. The other performances in the film are great as well, but given that Blair is in just about every frame of the film, it's hard not to focus on his character. And, at the end of the day, that's the thing that makes BLUE RUIN really work; its character development.

The music, by Brooke Blair and Will Blair (Macon's siblings), is also phenomenal. Wonderfully ambient and hypnotic, it drones on throughout and sets the mood perfectly. If there were a score available for purchase, I would definitely purchase it.

Ultimately, I cannot recommend BLUE RUIN enough. It's a powerful film with great characters, harsh violence, and a wonderful twist on the standard revenge films that we are used to seeing. Saulnier is an extremely talented director, and I can't wait to see what he does next. Likewise, Blair has the potential to end up on an Oscar short-list someday. Everything about the film just works so well, and BLUE RUIN is proof that you don't need a huge budget to make a great, professional film. For my money, BLUE RUIN is one of the best, most powerful films of the year.

Movie Score


The Blu-ray

Anchor Bay delivers BLUE RUIN to us on a single BD-25 disc. The cover artwork is beautiful, and there are some nice bonus features included.

Video Quality (5/5)

Though the Blu-ray disc used for this release is only 25GB, the 1080p AVC-encoded transfer for BLUE RUIN looks great. The film was shot digitally, on a low budget, but you would never be able to tell because it looks better than a lot of studio films that cost a great deal more. The only way that BLUE RUIN would look any better would be to present it in a higher bitrate. I think that what we have here is extremely faithful to the source.

Audio Quality (4/5)

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track on BLUE RUIN is very good. Though much of the movie is quiet, the track handles the higher-action beats wonderfully. The mix is solid, and the low-end is strong. This isn't the kind of track that you would use to demo your home theater system, but it's extremely solid.

Extra Features (3.5/5)

BLUE RUIN doesn't have a huge amount of extras on the disc, but I feel that what is here is better than most of what we get for newer films these days.
  • Audio Commentary With Writer/Director Jeremy Saulnier and Actor Macon Blair: Easily the best feature on the disc, this audio commentary is very informative and easy to listen to. It's obvious that Saulnier and Blair have known each other for a long time, and their back-and-forth is wonderful. They discuss just about every aspect of the project - both technical and anecdotal. Who needs film school when you have tracks like this?
  • No Regrets - The Making of BLUE RUIN (~19 minutes): A nice piece, featuring the cast and crew, that discusses the film's production; from its inception to its road to getting distribution. My only complaint is that it isn't longer. I would have watched a two-hour making-of, if one were available, though.
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Camera Test 

Final Thoughts

Overall, Anchor Bay's release of BLUE RUIN is great. The disc is worth a purchase, based solely on the quality of the film, but there are also some good extras included here as well. The video and audio quality are about as good as anyone could ask for, despite the fact that the film is on a BD25 (as opposed to a BD50). I have absolutely no qualms with recommending this disc as a blind buy for newcomers, and if you are already a fan, then this is a MUST BUY.

Highly Recommended!

Blu-ray Score


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